Tag Archives: France

Sunny last day

Today was our last day in Paris. We set out for Place d’Aligre after breakfast. This is a combination of food and flea markets in the 12th. The particularly nice thing about it is that it is open on weekdays, not just weekends like the others. And, it’s not out as far so the neighborhood was a bit more pleasant. Shana found some nice stuff for her antique business, and she has become a good bargainer en Francais. I enjoyed being her assistant and occasional interpreter (though I mean that very loosely). It was a nice marche aux puces to end on.

We hopped on a couple of metro lines to Musee d’Orsay and had a delightful time. We share a similar level of knowledge of and appreciation for art, so we are a good pair in the museums. We spent a couple of hours before departing for a stroll down the Seine. We checked out the booksellers in their dark green stalls. Then we found a great Italian restaurant tucked down a small, quiet side street among the hustle and bustle of the city. For 15,90€ each, we had a three course delicious lunch. We have done fairly well with our food prices and are glad of that for sure…calories are another story.

Okay…I have written two additional paragraphs two times, but Word Press keeps deleting them when I hit save! So, I am just going to try to add photos and you can figure out what else we did. Au revoir!

 

Museums of two extremes

Most know that Paris is full of museums. Today we took in two and had quite different experiences. We took the metro to Place de la Concorde and saw the obelisk. Then we crossed the street to Musee de l’Orangerie, situated in Jardin des Tuileries. It was absolutely delightful, both in content and scale. The most famous work here is Monet’s Nympheas or water lilies. This is a series of many large panels housed in two oval rooms in l’Orangerie. It was spectacular. There is another floor of paintings to view, many from the impressionist era. Also quite nice. Then we were done and departed, after buying a few mementos at the cute little shop.

We strolled through the garden to the Louvre. We cut the queue with our Paris Pass (awesome) and made our plan. We went to see La Jaconde (the Mona Lisa) along with just about everyone else. I think it was as crowded as when we were here in August! We visited Venus de Milo with another crowd. We saw many things – paintings and statues mostly – along the way. Next we found our way to Napoleon III’s apartment, and it felt like we were at Versailles. Such over the top opulence! It was sort of cool to see and much less crowded. We found the Lacemaker next, by Dutch artist Vermeer, which was unexpectedly small. Finally, we descended to view the medieval Louvre before exiting. The whole thing was overwhelming, just like the other times I’ve visited. I’m not quite sure how to experience it any other way, so maybe next time I’m in Paris, I’ll skip it all together. I will definitely return to l’Orangerie.

We walked toward Les Halles, stopping for lunch along the way. Next we toured Saint Eustache, a cathedral built in the 16th century that houses the largest pipe organ in Paris. Young Louis XIV received communion here and Mozart’s mother’s funeral was here, among many other things. We had a 3:00 booking at O Chateau for a wine tasting (part of our Paris Pass), so that was next. It was good in terms of the wine, but a bit too much shtick from the somelier. The Pompidou was an easy walk from this point, so we went there next to enjoy it from the outside only. We were sort of museumed out by now. The metro took us home, and we will go find crepes for dinner in a bit.

One more full day here tomorrow. We have a few things left to do, including another flea market, a boat ride on the Seine, and the best museum: Musee d’Orsay. Should be fun!

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A full day in Paris

We slept well, enjoyed breakfast at the hotel (great coffee), and headed to Île de la Cité. We had a preview of the flower and bird market (Reed’s nightmare) before heading to Notre Dame. We walked around the massive cathedral before going inside. We then entered, checked out the outer perimeter, and settled in for an hour long service, a Gregorian mass, which was special for Lent. We thoroughly enjoyed worshipping in this way.

Next we went to Sainte Chapelle…if you’ve been there, you know what an amazing experience we were in for. Thankfully, the rose window that was behind the scaffolding when we visited in August was visible, though still a bit obscured. We returned to the flower and bird market after soaking in the majesty of the colored glass. Shana got some perfume, I got some soap, and we really enjoyed the beautiful flowers and chirping birds.

We traveled to the Vanves Marche aux Puces (flea market) in the 14th arrondissement. We enjoyed browsing the many stalls of brocantes. I got a napkin and Shana got a lot of handkerchiefs for a good price. It was fun to take in a market that was a bit more manageable in size than Clignancourt. 🙂 

We were quite cold and hungry by this point, so we went to the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area. We ate at Les Deux Magots, which I had wanted to do. I think I sat at Jean-Paul Sartre’s table as we enjoyed our quiche and coffee. And, even more, Ric Ocasek, Paulina Poritzkova, and their son sat right next to us! We respected their privacy and left them alone, but it was pretty cool nonetheless. If you don’t know who these people are, search up The Cars or 1980s models. 🙂

We sojourned on to Saint Sulpice, another pretty cathedral. We went for the Lenten organ recital, which was okay though too much talking. Still, I was happy to visit as I had never been. Next we took the metro to the Pantheon to tour the crypts…we saw Paulina and her son again, though no Ric is time. We even had time to visit Arc de Triomphe before heading back to the hotel! We lucked out with our timing and saw the eternal flame ceremony, complete with bugle and snare drum. 

We took provisions (baguette, cheese, wine) to our room to enjoy for dinner. We are content with everything we did and saw today and should sleep well tonight! 





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Twinkle twinkle

And an evening stroll to take in one of my absolute favorite sites…



Paris 

We had a nice train ride from Angers to Paris and made our way to the hotel by metro. It is a lovely hotel (Cadran) in the seventh, just off Rue Cler. We got some lunch after checking in, and then we set out to explore. We found the huge flea market, Clignancourt, in the 20th and browsed for awhile. Then we went to Monmartre and visited Sacre Coeur. We still have lots to see but are already having fun!





Angers on foot

We spent Friday discovering more of Angers on foot. It is a very accessible city and easy to navigate. At the same time, we always seem to stumble upon a new side street with cute shops and creperies. The River Maine and the cathedral help orient you when needed. It is very well designed and full of things to do, as you will see below (hopefully, if the pictures load this morning).

After croissants and coffee, we set out for Galerie David d’Angers, a museum full of beautiful statues in a lovely setting. It is a small gallery of various types and sizes of statues in an old cathedral that now has a ceiling of sky lights. It was terrific and well worth the admission fee. We each purchased our two museum pass for only 6€ as we planned to also visit the “new” tapestry museum in the afternoon. 

Next we went back inside the cathedral to see it in the daylight. As it was cloudy and a bit rainy, it wasn’t much brighter but still well worth a stroll through the beautiful sanctuary. We imagined Christmas Eve mass full of hundreds of people and candlelight. I did some souvenir shopping at the House of Adam, which is inside a half-timbered structure, the oldest house in Angers, built around 1500. Then we went to a more standard souvenir shop recommended by Sue (there aren’t many here, which is kind of nice). Then it was the wine shop, complete with tastings (the shopkeeper participates too!).

We picked up lunch at our favorite boulangerie one last time and ate it in our room (with our newly acquired wine). (I will do a food post at some point as I have many photos of beautiful food…so good here.) We set out again after lunch, this time across the river to make our way to the tapestry museum. First we went to the Penitent House, a beautiful old building full of turrets and poets (it is a venue for gatherings, this month being a poetry conference). Next we visited Hôpital Saint-Jean, the Musée Jean-Lurçat et de la tapisserie contemporaine with tapestries dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. They were a much more modern version of the tapestries of the apocalypse we had visited earlier in the week at the chateau. 

Emmaus, the French equivalent of Good Will, was next on our walk. Not much had been added to their stock since Shana’s solo visit earlier in the week. Then the antique shops we had walked by several times were FINALLY open. One was a cluttered store watched over by an old man. It was hard to maneuver but Shana looked through his linens and post cards, buying some of the latter. A few doors down was the “brocantes” store we had been eagerly anticipating. It was fun to explore, and Shana found some linens and postcards to buy this time. I even got a little dish. I’m so pleased she has been able to find some items for her antiques business back home as that was part of her reason for coming.

We relaxed and repacked at the hotel prior to dinner at our favorite pizza shop next door. It was a lively night there, full of friends and families. We were still the first ones in the place, even though we didn’t arrive until just after 8:00! It’s a different way of life here…we are enjoying it for sure. This morning we take the train to Paris, so we will say goodbye to Angers…for now.

 

 

A visit to Cointreau

Cointreau is an orange alcohol, in case you aren’t familiar with it. Triple sec was its first name, and after lots of copy-cats, the Cointreau family decided to call it by their name. If you’ve had a cosmo, sidecar, or margarita, you’ve  had triple sec. If you’ve had a really good cosmo, sidecar, or margarita, you’ve had Cointreau. 🙂

For only 8€ each, Shana and I basically had a private tour. Sue had arranged this (her assistant, Annika, escorted us), and we think Sue has quite the connections with Cointreau! It was informative, impressive, and quite enjoyable. I’ve toured a few distilleries and breweries in Europe and the US, and this tour was among the best. And definitely with the best cocktail at the end. (Sorry, Reed, I’m just not a Scotch girl!)

You can read about Cointreau and its history online, so I won’t go into too many details. It is made with only four things: water, orange rinds (2 kinds: bitter and sweet), alcohol (from sugar beets), and sugar (also from the beets).   It is a clear liquid, yet when an ice cube is dropped in it, it becomes cloudy and you can see the essential oils. At one point in time, it was marketed through sort of creepy cartoons that appealed to children, and it had an equally creepy mime-based clown mascot. We saw a bottle collection of over 300 rip-offs, each of which Cointreau shut down. The company treats its 70ish employees very well, giving them 7 weeks of vacation each year and a 3-month Christmas bonus (& Countreau)! It is only made in Angers, France, so we got it at its source. I encourage you to go out and enjoy some!

AHA International wrap-up

I said my goodbyes to Sue Crust today, the wonderful AHA site director who has been a terrific host. She had to head in to Paris for meetings, so after my morning Intermediate French class, she had her assistant, Annika, take charge. I was able to track the professor in the French class very well, so I was quite pleased with that. 🙂 Sue will mail me six or so surveys that weren’t yet finished, so she really has gone above and beyond what I expected. Below are some photos of Sue’s space, as well as one of the two of us. I hope our paths cross again!

More pictures…?

I’m hoping to get a few more photos from yesterday in Angers to load this morning. Hardly any of what I attempted to add last night appear! The wifi (say “wee fee”) here leaves a bit to be desired, and it has to be “recharged” every 30 minutes. Anyway, hopefully more sites show below…

 

More from Angers

The morning began with a visit to Château d’Angers (see http://monuments-nationaux.fr/en/actualites/a-la-une/bdd/actu/1541 for more info), an incredible medieval castle that contains one of the largest tapestries in the world (and the oldest in France). A-MA-ZING! 

Then I went to the Centre international d’étude de la langue française (CIDEF), located at the Université catholique de l’Ouest, which is also where AHA is located. I met with Sue and two nice women, both named Florence, about study abroad opportunities. There are many, even if students don’t speak French! I am excited to take back ideas to Concordia to see if we can get some students over here.

I also visited the Anglophone library in Angers, where Sue volunteers. I was able to have a few more surveys completed for my research. I can tell that English is highly valued here, especially with a high unemployment rate – it can really help young adults secure a decent job. Next Sue and I got coffee before she left for her Italian class. It was a very enjoyable – and productive – day. (I wanted to include many more photos but was unsuccessful and gave up…my apologies!)